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  • Writer's pictureAviva Nirenberg

Solving the procrastination puzzle

Stop procratination

Although almost everyone struggles with procrastination, for those with ADHD it can be the curse of their existence. Why are ADHD and procrastination inexorably linked? The connection is easily explained since the hallmark traits of ADHD provide fuel for procrastination. Even with the best of intentions, ADHD distraction or impulsivity can push or pull you off course. For example, you were ready to sit down and tackle the report for your boss and receive a call from your college buddy. Then, working memory, another ADHD challenge plays a role. You hang up the phone, but your intention to start the report is long forgotten. Another challenge is that the ADHD brain is ignited, motivated, and focused for tasks that are 1) interesting, 2) a personal passion, 3) meaningful or inline with your values, or urgent. So, if the task doesn’t fall into categories one to three, it will by default only be tackled when the deadline is imminent.  Urgency will charge ADHD focus but not always under the best circumstances or producing the best results. Some other obstacles that cause procrastination for those with ADHD are perfectionism, overwhelm, disorganization, and lack of motivation. 

So ask yourself, "Why am I procrastinating?" and answering honestly Now, you are taking the first step to overcoming procrastination. For every answer there is a solution.

It’s so boring. Put on your favorite music while doing the bills, dance while cleaning the floor, put on a timer and compete with yourself to see how quickly you can finish, use your ADHD creativity and make the task into a game, focus on one thing you like about the activity (e.g. the smell of the clean laundry), promise yourself a reward, Imagine what being finished will feel like.

I’m overwhelmed. It’s too big a project. Break the task down into smaller chunks. Start with something small and manageable.

I’m not in the mood. I have no motivation. Spend 20 minutes doing something fun first, but don’t forget the timer.  The fun task will produce dopamine and other feel good chemicals for your brain and give you the momentum to get started. Remember your why. How will completing this task make a difference in your life? Why is it important?  Do you need some rest or to refuel your body and brain with a healthy snack or meal?

It’s too hard. Figure out what’s making it difficult. Get  help, more information,  learn a new skill, practice, or delegate the task.

I don’t have what I need to get started. If you’re painting the bathroom make sure you have all the supplies (paint, brushes, roller, masking tape, and drop cloth) to get started and similarly, for the work presentation (Whiteboard, markers, projector, etc.). Having the supplies ready to go will often create the motivation and momentum to get started.

I have no energy. Rest or refuel your body and brain with a healthy snack or meal, especially one high in protein. Protein forms the building blocks of the neurotransmitters that fuel focus and motivation.

It needs to be perfect or I’ll mess up anyway. Lower the bar and have self-compassion. You’re human and all humans are imperfect. 

I have plenty of time. Create mini artificial deadlines and schedule focused work times on your calendar. Let others know about the task for extra accountability.

It’s too late. There’s not enough time. Perhaps, you should have started earlier, but start now and do your best. After all, next time you’ll do a fantastic job since you’ll already have this guide to overcome procrastination! 

I keep forgetting or get distracted. Put the task on your schedule for a specific day and time or perhaps this task really isn’t important or urgent and doesn’t merit a space on your to do list. In that case, remove it. Now, the task is DONE!

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